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Top 50 Albums of the Decade

From Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ to Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ and more

Amit Vaidya Dec 30, 2019
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This past decade, the 2010’s has been historic for a number of reasons. First and foremost, physical sales of albums went from becoming a primary indicator of an album’s success to almost being only an asterix in its chart impact. Downloading made way for streaming resulting in some major changes both on in terms of how to measure success but also in terms of audiences having access to music immediately.

Concept albums dropped without notice. Artists launched several singles in advance of their album releases hoping to create hype for the album. And probably more than ever, we saw entire albums get scrapped not because of early leaks but because of lack of buzz. Given the emphasis on streaming, which finally matched the feel of radio where customized playlists trumped the “album experience”, artists tried to find relevancy in creating full length albums, often first releasing EP’s in to gage if their musical direction is being lauded or they need just move on.

Big labels stood almost as much chance as independent labels and thanks to YouTube, visuals became a key way to directly promote albums to listeners.

With all the changes the industry has seen over the last decade, it’s hard to believe that artists have still been able to release some incredible music, thematic albums, genre-bending albums, albums that have already managed to stand the test of time by being both critically lauded and appreciated by listeners as well.

Here’s my personal list of the Top 50 Albums of the decade. In determining the best of the best, the ranker I used included the overall experience of listening to the album from start to finish, its production quality, its cultural impact, its lyrics and of course, the enjoyment. Unlike my yearly charts, artists are able to appear multiple times.

The list includes a number of hip-hop albums, some rock, some soul and then of course a few pop albums, interestingly far more female driven this decade. In a single driven era again, many well-known artists failed to rank highly as hodgepodges of albums just didn’t work anymore.

50. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

St. Vincent, an extraordinary talent, gifted guitarist and wonderful songwriter. She set the bar very high from the get-go but her self-titled 2014 release made her a hero for not just Millennials but for all of us. A genuine talent who rocks because that’s what rock used to be and thanks to St. Vincent – still is. Described by herself as a “party record you can play at a funeral,” this critically lauded album deservedly won the Alternative Album Grammy that year and it’s no surprise that it features on so many critic’s year-end and decade-end lists.

49. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

This debut double album by American rapper Vince Staples was unlike anything else released at the time. Produced by a slew of high profile Kanye protégées including No I.D., the album plays like a songbook of love and life in the big city. Of course the California native knew how to tell a story and Summertime ’06 plays like an old-school hip hop album times two! No big single but more an experience, it’s an album that plays well because even though all the tracks are solid, what’s been created here is a full record worth playing from start to finish.

48. Charli XCX – Pop 2

On her fourth album, pop progressor Charli XCX continues to do everything right. Easy to root for pop bangers that all have a dramatic engagement that alters the music from being just bubblegum to something more credible, but still a hell of a lot of fun. Charlie has never shied away from sharing the spotlight with other acts and Pop 2 has a slew of heavy-hitters who she collaborates with to let them too become a part of her world. Everyone from Tove Lo to Cupcakke join the festivities and we still can’t stop smiling and dancing.

47. James Blake – James Blake

It’s amazing how a style, a sound can be created and then forever be attached to one artist. But back in 2011, James Blake was just releasing his self-titled opus. The British singer-songwriter’s style felt like his own yet artists, everyone from Bon Iver to Beyonce could attach themselves to him. The album ranged stylistically everywhere from electronic to soul to jazz and worked both as a critical and commercial success. Just listen to “I Only Know (What I Know Now)” and you’ll know why even Kanye became such a major fan of his work.

46. The Weeknd – House of Balloons

Before all the mainstream success and tabloid relationships, Canadian soul singer The Weeknd was a critical darling. This indie, trip-hop mixtape launched a star(boy) unashamed to sing his heart out but open enough to let his voice soar across genres and musical styles. Yet, ironically at the time of the release, no one actually knew his identity (take that Sia). So the music came across loud and clear without any predetermined judgment. R&B never sounded so sensual and sophisticated and for a change, unpretentious. The Weeknd of course went on to become one of the biggest stories in music this decade but his start will forever remain a true testament to his artistry.

45. Selena Gomez – Revival (2015)

Speaking of exes! Gomez was one of many Disney stars that became a mainstay on pop stations this decade. Yet while others had there breakout hits and big moments with controversial singles and videos, Gomez seemingly trotted along without much drama. Or at least it didn’t seem to spill into her music save for her 2019 anthem “Lose You To Love Me.” Revival was a refreshingly mature sound for Gomez beautifully put together as a cohesive experience rather than just a couple of big singles and filler. The album felt current, and every song the album had the potential to be a hit single if released. Unabashedly pop, the album included such timeless gems as “Hands To Myself” and “Me And The Rhythm.”

44. Robyn – Honey 

I’ll be honest, I even liked the teen version of Robyn. Of course it was manufactured but the Swede from the get-go had something special about her. Her voice, her style, her brand of Swedish soul just felt different. Of course, thankfully her career evolved and as her sound matured, she became one of the most influential artists of our time. This 2018 release was a welcome return for the artist who spent years chasing the success of her previous album (we’ll get to it later!), only to create a whole new body of work for us to savour and for many to try and replicate.

43. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream 

It seems like Katy Perry and Rihanna might possibly be the last of their kind. Female artists who made albums where through the journey of each single release, we see their own evolution. With singles now determining relevancy, artists aren’t given the timeframe arcs anymore to grow in the same way (case in point, two Ariana Grande albums in less than one year!). Having said that, Teenage Dream was that giant record that comprised of hit after hit and each one seemingly became more and more enjoyable. Looking back to realize that “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “E.T.,” “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” “Part Of Me,” and “The One That Got Away” were all from this album – just try imagining an artist trying to pull off that many hits from one album over the span of more than two plus years today.

42. Rosalía – El Mal Querer

Breath of fresh air is the only way I can express it. Latin music and hip hop had seemingly come to a nauseating redundancy where originality was only be served based on who was collaborating with whom. Then comes Rosalía who creates a universe where everything we know gets changed and we love it. Her second album and its flamenco-laced productions were such a welcome arrival to a genre that needed not just inventiveness again but also new female voices.

41. Kaytranada: 99.9% 

Canadian electronic music producer Kayntranada’s debut was just about as perfect a percussion-driven genre-blending fusing record could be. From funk and soul to garage and dance, the producer with the help of a slew of known and soon to become big stars in their own right artists created an album that felt like it could have released at any point in time in the previous two decades yet still felt fresh and relevant. Another album where every track could be a single, Kaytranada created a style that while we’ve visited before, we felt happy to return for seconds.

40. Ariana Grande – Sweetener 

After a devastating terrorist attack at her concert in London, Grande had two options. One was to say “fuck it” and find her own strength privately or heal in public and let them in in her mourning. She’d subsequently have to do plenty more of it even after the release of Sweetener but this album perfectly captured the popstars and many of our anxieties in a volatile world. With singles like “No Tears Left To Cry” and the stellar “Breathin,” Grande became that much more real and relatable as her coping became ours too.

39. Disclosure – Settle

The debut studio release by electronic duo Disclosure now reads like a who’s who of hype artists from the decade. From a young Sam Smith to London Grammar to a budding Jessie Ware and AlunaGeorge, the album masterfully crafted pop-dance sensibility with indie-cred and beats that kept us moving. Similar to Daft Punk, the duo focused on sophisticated more mature pop creating a sound of their owns that critics and listeners alike “latched” themselves onto.

38. SZA – Ctrl 

The debut album by R&B chanteuse SZA was a revelation. Beyond the confines of traditional R&B and neo-soul, the singer/songwriter delved into indie rock and trap music. What resulted is an eclectic album that feels smoother than butter thanks to SZA’s vocals and lyrics that are both heartfelt and heart-breaking. It has been a while since audiences got someone this assured at such a young age in this otherwise very adult-leaning genre.

37. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

In the music industry, there are have been many stars who’ve sadly missed their chance due to poor management, record label issues, etc. Sky Ferreira for a rather lengthy amount of time seemed to be at the mercy of these uncontrollable factors but thankfully managed to see her debut album finally release in 2013. Night Time, My Time was worth the wait. Gone was the pop/dance artist we thought we’d hear and instead we got an indie, new-wave, experimental album that was both incredibly well produced but also unlike anything else being released. The album while not commercially the hit it deserved, garnered widespread acclaim and over the years has become an album that many now look back and feel deserved far more attention than it initially received.

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36. D’Angelo And The Vanguard – Black Messiah

After a 14 years hiatus from his second album Voodoo, D’Angelo returned, this time with The Vanguard. The album delved far more into funk and in its analog style worked to capture a moment in time listeners probably hadn’t heard since the 1970’s when Sly & The Family Stone were cranking out hits. With a reliance on live instrumentation, the album was a welcome lookback at soul music pre hip-hop and with an emphasis on lyrics that speak to the black identity and raising our social consciousness, Black Messiah was the perfect antidote to everything else we were hearing at the time.

35. Taylor Swift – Red

Red was a defining moment in Swift’s career. Her fourth album, second in a row to debut at #1 with more than a million copies sold in the first week alone, the album found the singer songwriter experimenting far beyond her country roots into indie rock and even dubstep. The result was a power packed pop record that elevated Swift from just a good storyteller into a bonafide entertainer. While her second album Fearless drew the obvious Shania Twain comparisons, Red is when Swift officially became her own artist.

34. Rihanna – ANTI

After what felt like an eternity especially for an artist who’d never taken even a 1 year break, post a three-year hiatus, Rihanna returned with the most ambitious album of her career. Refusing to be categorized, the Barbadian Top 40 staple returned to the charts the most uninhibited, most stylized and of course, in her finest form. With assistance from everyone from Drake to Tame Impala, ANTI was everything that wasn’t mainstream but became solely because of the sheer power of Rihanna.

33. Jamie xx – In Colour 

Almost a half plus decade in the making, In Colour was the brilliant debut record from Jamie xx that had us groovin’ to numerous styles of dance that we weren’t sure could come together as cohesively as the album actually manages to do. From trance to jungle and everything in between, the album showcases xx’s moods be in through the ballads or through the club bangers that leave you always wanting more. An album that stood the test of time at release and continues to do the same now.

32. Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings

Miranda Lambert has been one of country’s most mesmerizing stars since her days on reality TV’s Nashville Star in 2003. Her 2016 double album all but genre-busted her for good. The album highlights her divorce from The Voice’s country judge Blake Shelton, and is a deeply personal record permitting Lambert to share her feelings in the purest of ways. To gain such purity, Lambert transcends country music to create an authentic experience sans genre conformities.

31. FKA Twigs – LP1

LP1 was the debut album from English singer songwriter FKA Twigs. Her style instantly identifiable if you could hear it. Often singing in tandem with the soul-tinged instrumentation, her voice would often feel like another instrument itself sans vocals. This breathy whisper-like vibe creates an alternative world for the singer who uses modern R&B and electronica to make the singles sound current but the energy she emits make the whole album feel far more futuristic at the same time.

30. Emeli Sande – Our Version Of Events

After writing hits for acts like Leona Lewis and Sugababes, it was expected Emeli Sande’s debut album would be pure pop. While certainly crafted like a pop record, Our Version Of Events was far more than just throwaway singles. The album beautifully captured Sande’s raw emotions thanks to stellar vocals and instrumentation that felt inspired by everything from Motown to Massive Attack. Here we had an artist who knew what it took to create a hit but rather than just find a good melody, she creates worlds for each song and it’s no surprise then that it became the best-selling album of the year in the UK that year.

29. Drake – Take Care

Suffice it to say by Take Care’s release date, Drake already a bonafide star had also become a bonafide sound. Featuring appearances from The Weeknd to Kendrick Lamar to Rihanna to Nicki Minaj, the album masterfully maintained the sultry, dark sonic R&B style Drake had already created but here, it seemed to have been perfected. Singing and rapping, he talks about love, money and sex but also about family and the future. The album was a huge commercial and critical success thanks to tracks like “Headlines” and the title cut “Take Care.” Probably the most cohesive album Drake released this decade.

28. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Indie folk rock had a moment in 2011 with the release of the second studio album by American band Bon Iver. Despite a strange Grammy win for Best New Artist (yes, it was their second album), the album was a massive critical hit. With each track a map location, each song narrated a journey, with its own curated instrumentation making every track have its own sonic stamp. The album cohesively lets listeners travel from place to place making it work as solidly as individual tracks as a total album.

27. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It

There probably wasn’t a more eclectic album released this decade than I Like It When You Sleep… The 1975 have never lacked ambition and their multi-genre take at pop worked better than you’d expect. Managing to sound fresh and current despite a new-wave, modern rock style helped for the band to stand apart and in stark contrast to other rock bands. Witty lyrics, a sharp delivery and an effortless ease to the production helped the album to shine – it’s no surprise the album became such a fan favourite for the decade.

26. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap

Acid Rap is for sure the best free album of the decade. Technically released as a mixtape, Chance The Rapper took the opportunity to continue to say fuck to record labels while creating a slew of amazing songs chronicling the rapper’s life post high school and as he explored the world of LSD. The music here is relevant and rather than storytelling, Chance uses the music to narrate his emotions. It’s no wonder even President Obama added the rapper to his summer setlist, nothing gets realer than this.

25. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

Norwegian DJ Todd Terje got the clubs groovin’ with It’s About Time. Right in the middle of the emerging nu-disco scene, the album came out finding a way to bring electronic music back to a more funk/disco sound without losing the bells and whistles of modern productions. Terje’s album stood apart from others because the album managed a strong thematic connection which made listeners and partygoers wanting to hear it from start to finish thanks to some strategically placed interstitials that create a world we inhabit and where we groove.

24. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City 

Moving away from the sound that defined them previously, indie pop with an African tinge, Vampire Weekend released their third album as a highly experimental genre-busting work of art. With heavier and more adult themes lyrically being explored, the band’s evolution felt much more sincere and also much more welcome. The gimmicks were gone and instead a cohesive, very beautifully narrated (albeit at times lyrically lengthy) story unfolded, helping to create the band’s finest album to date.

23. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel… 

Fiona Apple is an anomaly. She was never supposed to become the instant star she did and it’s like the rest of her career has played out so as to make sure she never achieves that level of commercial success again. Of course critically, it’s another story. After another ridiculous gap between albums, Apple released The Idler Wheel… which as expected continued her reign supreme as the duality queen. Brilliantly disguising her insecurities against her love, her sadness against her reality, the singer songwriter again shines her vocabulary and her stunning voice to create a template only she can use for herself.

22. Beyoncé – Lemonade

Beyoncé’s Lemonade, in audio and video form, is heartfelt and heart wrenching roller coaster of emotions of the hurt folk. The 2016 album slides through genres like a Top 10 chart from rock to country, hip-hop to jazz all done with such ease and personality that there is no need to define a genre, cause every genre has room for the Queen. Some brilliantly executed standout tracks are there, but it’s the singular vision, the concept here that works in favour of the superstar to create an album that rightfully garnered all the press and attention it got and then some!

21. Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid

Cinematic is probably the best way to describe this debut album by Monáe. In many ways, TheArchAndroid felt like the album Prince wishes he could have made. Monáe’s ability to playfully hop genres, create a world where African, rock and Michael Jackson level-pop could all come together and not seem manufactured or forced or regressive but rather futuristic and high-concept just goes to show the brilliance of the young artist. It’s been a delight to see the star evolve over the decade and prove that this wasn’t a fluke, it was just the beginning.

20. Lana Del Rey – Born To Die 

Speaking of flukes, probably no artist this decade had more naysayers at the start of their career than Lana Del Rey. Despite the controversy behind her image, sound and style, audiences and critics couldn’t deny the sheer power of her performance. That she’s maintained this “character” over the past decade either has made Del Rey one of the best performers of our time or it simply just squashes away all those nasty comments and we can just celebrate her for the amazing artist she’s been since Born To Die, an album unlike anything out at the time yet somehow revolutionary in its haunting ability to attract the indie-pop world as well as teenage girls watching “Gossip Girl.”

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19. Jessie Ware – Devotion 

I can’t hide my love for this British chanteuse. I’m not sure Brit soul is a genre but following the footsteps of Lisa Stansfield, Jessie Ware created a world where adult mature pop and R&B could exist without inexplicable runs. Taking us back to a time in the 60’s and 70’s when the melody and the mood were enough for the artist to sing the song, Ware managed to create something retro-cool but also perfectly produced to fit with current trends.

18. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

The seventh studio album from Sujfan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell was the most beautiful tribute Stevens could have given to his late mother. While Stevens has previously intricately created some incredible LPs, this album works so well because there is a personal touch with the lyrics both reflective and resounding. It’s a quiet tribute, with very few bells & whistles other than a narrative that keeps your heart open and the melodies in sync with our emotions.

17. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. had the rapper digging deeper into his own head while expanding his sonic range. From adding Rihanna to being his own superhero and having its origin story, the album works because its popular culture being reflected, reshaped and restarted. DAMN. works as easily as it does because Lamar is a gifted storyteller well aware of his power but never overusing to sell what’s on his mind.

16. Adele – 21

It’s rare to have an album become a shared experience, collectively and globally. 21 did just that. Thanks to the power of a carefully selected group of singles and a haunting voice that towered over the melodies and timeless productions, Adele conquered the world and we just let her. 21 was a solid record but it was less about the album as much as it was about the emotions – the rage, sorrow, the sadness, the hurt – young and old, black and white, men and women all seemed to at least for a moment relate to, sing along to and most importantly praise along to the house that Adele built.

15. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream

Miguel’s 2010 debut All I Want Is You had him in sights as a rising soul star but it was his second album Kaleidoscope Dream that showcased him as the genre-busting talent that he is. Part Marvin Gaye, part Michael Jackson but all Miguel – the album joyously showcased his world without judgement. There was more focus on melody and poetry than hipness and hip-hop, a welcome change for the R&B world. His earnestness has since become his trademark whether he’s crooning about coffee or sex or both.

14. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city

Who is Kendrick Lamar? On his second album, good kid…, listeners got to hear from the different sides of the rapper and finally got to see gangsta rap elevate from just the confines of 90’s clichés, making West Coast rap a more accessible and socially relevant experience. Lamar’s brilliance here was to engage the black perspective without making it a cultural moment but rather through his autobiographical absorption, making the music not just sound amazing but feel legit because the material has been actualized. Lamar’s future projects wouldn’t have been possible without this breakthrough where we got to see him and understand why his artistry mattered.

13. Frank Ocean – Channel ORANGE 

Channel Orange established Ocean as a visionary in modern music. The album seamlessly married hip-hop, pop, jazz and R&B – with his style and flow becoming one of the most replicated formulas for the rest of the decade by other artists, most to only fledgling success. What made the album stand out so tall was the honesty and warmth which Ocean could sing about his hurt and his love in the most matter of fact ways. This depth and this distance created an emotional vortex that entangled listeners, both emotionally invested or not equally – a subtle but clever way to get everyone on the same tune.

12. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Canadian indie-rockers started the decade off the absolutely right way. Thankfully, they ditched the existentialism and instead focused lyrically on the now and the moment and as a result they created their most massy album to date and it worked! Ambitious in its energy, the album felt like the perfect push-pull balance, where we can’t decipher pain from pleasure and loss from hope. The album highlights the anxieties of getting older and starting a new chapter/phase of life. The Suburbs is just about the perfect rock album, and for once, Grammy voters agreed as it won Album Of The Year.

11. Grimes – Art Angels

The fourth album from Grimes was a bit of a departure for the artist. While the tone of her previous albums all relied heavily on experimental, Art Angels felt more contemporary, more personal and more pop. What results is a booty-shaking fun time where the productions often counter the lyrics in the most perverse of ways to create a dichotomy that we can’t stop from celebrating. Clever, sublime lyrics and imaginative productions that leave plenty of room for tampering create a world that’s all too unique and all too perfect. This album made Grimes stand out as the pop ingénue we knew she was.

10. Beyoncé – Beyoncé

The decade started with Beyoncé’s Top 40 magic slowly but surely going down in lieu of an iconic status whereby her music was more about the experience than the last big single. Thank God for that! This decade’s Beyoncé did what she wanted, made her own rules and her music as a result went from feeling formulaic to genuine in just the right way. Beyoncé saw a wonderfully crafted shift from hitmaker to an artist and finally ambition wasn’t going to be determined by awards but by artistry.

9. Solange – A Seat at the Table

Somewhere along the way, Solange Knowles became as prolific if not even moreso than her superstar big sis. Her third solo album, A Seat at the Table focuses on blackness in 21st-century America. Folksy yet simple lyrics are layered over breezy traditional soul.  With her acrobatic vocals on full display in the stellar “Cranes In the Sky” to her fantastic duet “Don’t Touch My Hair” with Sampha, Solange created an album that didn’t need grandness to feel grand. Call this the organic “Lemonade” album of the decade.

8. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!

While she had been building one of the most impressive repertoire of albums and singles over the past decade, it seemed Del Rey truly saved the best for last. Norman Fucking Rockwell is a heartfelt record of considerable depth and maturity that transcends the usual level of Del Rey’s music. In many ways, it’s like Del Rey channeled her best Fiona Apple and created a more intense ethereal experience that’s likely to stay with us for years to come.

7. Robyn – Body Talk 

Initially released as three separate EPs, Body Talk is as good as an album can get. Robyn created an album full of anthems that resonated so strongly that the originals as well as the thousands of covers that have subsequently been released of many of the tracks from the album all still sound fresh, relevant and most importantly don’t feel dated. From “Dancing On My Own” to “Indestructible” to “Fembot,” Robyn made an album that soared from the first beat and we’ve yet to stop crying dancing.

6. Lorde – Melodrama

Many artists hit it big the first time around this decade and one of the biggest instant stars we had was Lorde. After accomplishing a critical and commercial blockbuster with her debut album, it was truly make or break with the release of Melodrama. But Lorde proved everyone that she was no fluke and the New Zealander created an epic themed album focusing on the plight of the “lonelies” out there. From “Green Light” to “Homemade Dynamite”, the album was stronger lyrically, sonically and vocally than her debut and it’s no surprise, even today sounds as fresh on listen.

5. Frank Ocean – Blonde

Probably the most personal album on the decade-end chart, Ocean’s second album Blonde was emotionally raw, sensitive and almost the complete opposite of what listeners expected after his brilliant debut album. This anti-pop record worked so effectively because we were forced to follow Ocean on his journey with his vulnerabilities and sparse production making the songs that much tougher to swallow but all the more poignant and beautiful.

4. Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion

After a blockbuster hit like “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen seemed destined for one hit wonder status. Then came Emotion, a near perfect pop album. Unafraid to be unabashedly fun and delectably catchy, this album literally had the potential to have every single reach number one. Sadly, Jepsen went from overnight superstar to one of the most reliable underrated stars of the decade. From “Your Type” to “Run Away With Me,” there’s just no way you can’t bop along and smile while listening to Jepsen convincingly woo us with her sincere vocals.

3. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour 

Slowly but surely Musgraves developed a fan base far larger than the country music world thanks to saucy lyrics, smooth vocals and some timeless melodies. Golden Hour seemingly was the amalgamation of everything that made Musgraves a critical darling in the most commercially accessible way. From the disco-tinged “High Horse” to the Beatles-esque “Oh What A World,” for once, Grammy voters got it right when awarding the singer with Album Of The Year for this gem.

2. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

At the beginning of this decade, West was at the top of his game. West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was a sonically bombastic work of art. Atypical in construct, the album proved to be one that may rappers tried their best to replicate through the decade and for the most part, failed. While Yeezy has now found Jesus, this album showed that when it comes to innovation in hip-hop, West was like no other.

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Few albums had as much socio-political impact as To Pimp a Butterfly. Hip-hop’s influence on modern politics just couldn’t be ignored with Lamar’s masterpiece. Black Lives Matter found its anthem in “Alright” and the album became a masterclass on how to recite relevant rhymes with intelligence, grace and revolutionary artistry.

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